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When a Good Load Goes Bad

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When a Good Load Goes Bad

We all have them if one drives long enough: those loads booked, loaded and scheduled by those in the Murphy family or the Devil himself; everything that possibly could go wrong does. Expediting does not give one a pass on those types of loads; everyone from courier cars to semi trucks will find a hellish load at some point.


Jim, a driver in a metropolitan area, was scheduled to pick up an important envelope full of documents to take to the airport on the other side of town to hand deliver to a person who was going to be leaving on the next flight out. Jim had just enough time to make it when he was dispatched. When he got to the pickup destination, the papers were not quite ready. He lost five minutes. On the way to the airport, he got held up due to an accident in between exits, he lost ten minutes. By the time he got to the airport, the flight was boarding. Running to get to the boarding area, he slipped and sprained his ankle. Limping the final distance, he luckily found the recipient standing by the boarding ramp. With seconds to spare, he handed over the envelope.

Suzanne and her husband were dispatched on a hot load. They got to the shippers and checked in. They were told they would be called on their phone with a dock assignment as soon as possible. They checked back in every hour only to be told at the end of five hours that the load had been canceled earlier that day and no one had told anyone, or so they were told. Calling their dispatch, they were told to go to the truck stop and wait an hour or two. At the end of the second hour Suzanne was sent back to the same shipper to pick up the same load, now seven hours later. “I asked if the delivery time was to be changed and was told no. I finally called the receiver against company policy and told them of the situation; they agreed to push back the delivery time thankfully.” Suzanne said.

John, a tractor owner operator leased on with an expedite company related his hellish load. John was dispatched to go to Kansas City to pick up a new million dollar plus machine that was behind on delivery. When he got to the shipper he found that the machine had gauges sticking out along the sides of the machine. After much debate on how to get the machine into the trailer, it was decided that two forklifts would have to do it; one putting the machine in while another was on the side to slide the machine along. All the time the owner of the company was standing around wringing his hands yelling, “Be careful of those gauges!” “His face was so red and he was sweating so much I thought he was going to have a stroke!” John said.

With the gauges extra heavily wrapped, the next challenge was how to secure the machine. Creative securement came into play and John used his decades of experience to figure it all out. With little time to spare to be able to make his delivery on time, John took photos and promised to call the owner as soon as the load was delivered with photos of the delivery to assure the owner the machine arrived safely. Being very light and having to plow through some Michigan lake-effect snow, John still arrived on time and the machine was intact, to the owner’s delight.

Charles tells of his cold hellish load. Charles got a load from Hamilton, OH to Cahokia, IL a few years ago. It was a light load of some wooden panels. It should have been an easy 350 mile run. It picked up at 4:00 pm and had to deliver the next morning at 10:00 am. “I picked it up and a huge Midwest-wide snowstorm hit. It must have dumped a couple feet of snow fast and nobody was clearing the roads either. It took 12 1/2 hours to get there. Once I got to Indy, it was a solid blanket of snow on the highways and I went across I-70 plodding along at around 20-25 mph. I still made the delivery early.” Charles related.

Almost everyone in expediting knows of Bob and Linda Caffee, Team Run Smart drivers and of the Trucking Solutions Group. It might surprise some of you that even they get a hellish load once in awhile. While they try to forget those types of loads quickly and focus on the positive, this one stands out in Linda’s mind; Murphy struck them eight times on the same load. Linda counts them out.

“First we had snow that slowed us down.  Second was the ice in Arkansas and the interstate was at a standstill.  Third was having to idle as we would creep forward a inch every few minutes.  Fourth was the truck then decided it needed a regen and we had never done a parked regen.  Fifth: after going through several warning lights about the regen and the traffic moving about ten miles an hour finally got off of interstate to perform regen and had several trucks follow us as they thought we knew what we were doing.  Sixth: truck stops in the middle of the road and says perform the regen now! Seventh: upset drivers behind us as they waited for regen to complete which took about 13 minutes.
Eighth: finally get to delivery and they refuse load until next day.”

Don had a couple of days of hellish luck on one load, he relates, “I had one of these last summer, dispatched to Birmingham AL to pickup ‘Engine Parts’.   When I arrive first thing in the morning as instructed, I find no one is there, and no one knows why I am there.  Calls are made trying to find out what I am to be loaded with, and where it is going.   Hours go by, finally an entire diesel engine comes rolling out of the engine shop.  They were stalling for time because the engine wasn’t assembled or ready to ship, but someone had made sure the truck would be there 7 a.m.”

“They bring out this engine on a forklift that is huge. It is a big engine, probably weighed 10,000 lbs and it is on a metal stand that looks like some kid built for a tree house.   It is rusty and dirty and I am worried it is not good enough for a road trip.   They proceed to weld some extra supports onto the stand and shove the engine into the back of my straight truck.  I proceed to bolt it to the floor, strap it to the walls, put double load bars in front and back and pray.   They cannot find the paperwork, now it is 2 p.m. and they are calling and faxing; soon a very small Bill Of Lading is handed to me, something that resembles a packing slip.  They cannot reach the Consignee but I am to go ahead and head that way, they will meet me there.”

“I arrive at a large steel mill in the Memphis TN area, down along the river.   I am looking for the name on the packing slip/BOL as I look for the number on the address, but nothing matching the delivery name or street.   So I call, finally I find it is the steel mill but the Consignee is a construction company, slash engine repair company.”

“Onto the lot I go.  Now I keep my truck spotless.  I’m following a guy on a tractor who takes me down the most filthy, muddy, wet and dirty road I’ve ever seen, three inches of slop as I traverse the mills lots towards the drop.   I have finally arrived and no one is there.   Finally, three guys in a pickup truck arrive to tell me I’m supposed to be there tomorrow.   After convincing them to unload me since I was there, they attempt to get the huge engine out with a too small lift that nearly topples the engine; luckily it fell back into my truck, to the delight of my airbags.”

“Another larger lift is brought.  Now the ground is pure slop, and as soon as this lift tries to move with the engines weight on it, it is stuck.  Another tractor is attached, they pull together and out it comes.   As it clears the rear of my truck, the operator tries to lower the engine and stand to the ground, boom the whole thing comes crashing to the ground behind my truck.   They used chains and trucks and lifts and barely got the engine over to a shed, by the time they were done it looked like Mud Wrasslin’ had come to town.   Out I tried to go, eventually being dragged by the tractor that took me in.  By the time I got to the truck wash in Memphis my rig looked like I had plowed the river bottom, I had black soot and dirt all over.   All In a day’s work!”

Loads from hell abound in the fast paced world of expediting, weather, construction, delays due to loading issues and a thousand other things can go wrong to make a good load go wrong. Like mother used to say, everyone has a bad day sometimes, you just hope they do not come in bunches like grapes.

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